Should I get Smart Bulbs or Smart (in wall) Switches?

It depends on what (where) you want them for.

The biggest advantage of smart in-wall switches over smart bulbs is the way that the switch works with both the light and the ST hub. If you turn on or off the physical smart switch, you can turn it back on or off with ST. (And if you turn it on/off from ST, you can still turn it on/off from the physical switch.) As well, the smart switch still functions like a normal switch even when ST isn’t working.

With smart bulbs, if you turn off the bulb from a fixture or switch, the bulb is disconnected from the ST “network.” That means that ST can’t turn it back on. In fact, ST can’t even find the state of the bulb, so it’s almost as if you just completely unscrewed the bulb. In other words, for things to “work” properly, you can ONLY use ST to change the bulb status.

For these reasons, most people prefer using smart switches… if the light is usually controlled by a switch.

However, bulbs do have a few advantages over switches. For one, they are often less expensive than switches. As of this post, a “smart bulb” from Cree or GE (with dimming ability) costs about $15. A simple in-wall on/off smart switch costs at least double that. As well, the in-wall switch requires a bit of electrical wiring work, while a bulb only takes (insert bulb changing joke here) people to change it.


Really good!

Two small points:

A) if you use a zwave smart switch to control a zigbee lamp or vice versa by using Hello Home Actions then the switch may not work as expected when the hub is down.

B) quite a few smart switches these days are battery operated, no wiring required. This includes the zigbee SmartenIT ZBWSB3 and the zwave Cooper Aspire RF 9500, both sometimes used with SmartThings.

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When physical switches are required, there are a number of advantages to smart lamps with non-load bearing (auxiliary) switches. You can easily change up what lights each switch controls. You can even have one switch control an unlimited amount of scenes by designing SmartApps that roll through scenes on repetitive on presses and storing the last used state. Or, change up what the switch does based on time or other input.

In rooms with one light, like a guest bath or closet, a single load controlling switch is fine, but I prefer smarter switches in my main living areas.

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Go with Switches over bulbs every time you have a choice. Some table lamps and things don’t give you the option, but everywhere else - GO WITH SWITCHES.

I would definitely go for the switches unless your home has old wiring that has issues or you want color changing capability.

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I say smart switches as well; however, smart bulbs paired with motion detection pretty much negates the need for smart switches…at least in my experience / application.

It all depends on you expectations

And of course one of the newest control options is the Amazon Echo for voice control of bulbs connected through a Hue Bridge or for WeMo switches. Works great.

There’s no direct integration between ST and Echo yet, but one Hue Bridge can work with both, and it greatly reduces the temptation to use the dumb wall switch. This has become the main “switch” at our house. :blush:

As of this writing, June 20, 2015, Echo can control over 15 active bulbs on one bridge, and a bulb can be in multiple groups for voice control. (We use the $15 GE bulbs.) So one bulb could be in “blue lamp,” “living room,” “downstairs,” “bedtime” (a pathway of lights from living room to bedroom) and “all lights.” Really useful.

Neither if they’re connected to SmartThings. I’m getting tired of mine not responding.


The biggest complaint I got from my family is that they wish they could just control everything with a regular switch. I ended up going with GE ZWave switches throughout the house so that they can have the ease of use of a switch, while I can still have remote control over the switches.

Bonus…you can enable a ZWave switch and use a smart bulb for dimming purposes. I do this in my living room and have created a Hello Home action to turn on the ZWave switch and then dim each smart bulb down for Movie viewing purposes. It’s really nice actually.

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My biggest concern with smart switches is that technology makes advancements too fast. Install today / out of date tomorrow. I would love to have all smart switches, but with so much fluctuation in technology and the smart home race, I’m not sold on what is pretty standard today being standard tomorrow.

My other concern is that with my local job market, it’s hard to say how long I will have a job here before having to sell my house and move.

Smart bulbs are much easier to change as they are less permanent; however, they are a nuisance in a household of more than 1 iyam.

Alot of great info on here, New to ST, in addition to siren/sensor hook up Im interested in bulb/switch installs.

Leaning toward switch for rooms with can lights:

  • Each switch will operate 4-6 ceiling can lights. Do the bulbs need to be smart as well? Or can I use regular dumb bulbs? If dumb, do they NEED to be LED? Does it matter for a dimmer switch?

Leaning toward Osram color bulbs for table lights:
-Thinking of adding a few per room in table lamps, mostly for color mood lighting. Can they be set for different colors in multiple settings? Orange/Red for party time? Hook up to sensors/siren, to turn RED/Strope when sensor is tripped in Alarm mode?